• 16 Jan 2021 10:30 AM | Christine R Henry

    This is the first in a series of short previews of the amazing tours that are planned for the VAF conference in 2022.  Mark your calendars!

    Charles and Sara Braches house, Near Gonzales. Image courtesy of Brent R. Fortenberry

    The house of Charles and Sarah Braches was built east of Gonzales in the 1850s. Sara had settled there in 1831 and lived here until her death in 1894. Sarah and her first husband, Bartlett McClure, were natives of Kentucky; after Bart’s death she married Charles Braches, a German immigrant. The house blends Anglo-America features such as a central passage with Creole features such as a two-story inset front porch and a two-story petite galerie in the rear. As of this writing many original features remain, including exposed lath in the south room, presumably the parlor. The Braches house will be on the eastern tour on Thursday, May 19, 2022!

  • 16 Jan 2021 10:20 AM | Christine R Henry

    On Saturday, 7 November 2020, the New England Chapter of the Vernacular Architecture Forum held its first ever virtual Annual Meeting.  The successful program “Current Research by Members of VAF-NE England” featured five interesting and varied presentations for the first half, followed by a forum in the afternoon.  Over 100 registrants signed up for the program.  See full program

    In addition, the awardee of the Greenwood Award was announced at the meeting.  James Kelleher, was awarded the 2020 Greenwood Award for his paper “Framing the Old Colony: Early Plymouth Architecture in Context.”  James received his MA this in American Material Culture from the Winterthur Program at the University of Delaware, where he was a Lois F. McNeil Fellow.

    The Greenwood Award recognizes papers that emphasize fieldwork, supported by research, and both original and refreshed analysis to topics that include types of buildings, landscapes, and other cultural and historic resources.  Eligible candidates for the Greenwood Award are younger scholars no more than five (5) years beyond their terminal degree.

    Look for announcements concerning some virtual field trips and the 2021 Annual Meeting.

  • 16 Jan 2021 10:10 AM | Christine R Henry

    In November 2020 VAF member Amy Finstein published Modern Mobility Aloft: Elevated Highways, Architecture, and Urban Change in Pre-Interstate America that explores how American cities used elevated highways as major architectural statements about local growth and modernization before 1956.

    In the first half of the twentieth century, urban elevated highways were much more than utilitarian infrastructure, lifting traffic above the streets; they were statements of civic pride, asserting boldly modern visions for a city’s architecture, economy, and transportation network. Yet three of the most ambitious projects, launched in Chicago, New York, and Boston in the spirit of utopian models by architects such as Le Corbusier and Hugh Ferriss, ultimately fell short of their ideals.

    Modern Mobility Aloft is the first study to focus on pre-Interstate urban elevated highways within American architectural and urban history. Amy Finstein traces the idealistic roots of these superstructures, their contrasting realities once built, their impacts on successive development patterns, and the recent challenges they have posed to contemporary urban designers.

    Filled with more than 100 historic photographs and illustrations of beaux arts and art deco architecture, Modern Mobility Aloft provides a critical understanding of urban landscapes, transportation, and technological change as cities moved into the modern era.

  • 16 Jan 2021 10:00 AM | Christine R Henry

    In December 2020, VAF member Kristin Hankins published an article in the Journal of Urban History titled "Framing the Litterbug: Picturing and Policing Public Cleanliness in Mid-Twentieth Century Philadelphia" based on her paper presentation at VAF Philadelphia in June 2019.

  • 16 Jan 2021 9:50 AM | Christine R Henry

    VAF member Tom Hubka published a new book, How the Working-Class Home Became Modern, 1900-1940, in December 2020.  This book analyzes a period when millions of average Americans saw accelerated improvement in their housing and domestic conditions. It is a detailed narrative that traces changes in household hygiene, sociability, and privacy practices that launched large portions of the working classes into the middle class, reconfiguring and enriching the standard account of the domestic transformation of the American home. 

  • 16 Jan 2021 9:40 AM | Christine R Henry

    VAF member Siobhan Moroney is hoping the VAF community can help with her current research.  "I am researching the Chicago Tribune’s Chicagoland Prize Homes architectural competition of 1945.  The Tribune wanted designs for modest and affordable homes.  There were nearly 1,000 submissions, 24 winners, and at least two dozen houses were built from winning designs, almost all in Chicago or Chicago suburbs.  The Tribune published Prize Homes in 1948, which included 92 designs.  The Art Institute of Chicago held an exhibition in 1946 that included the winners and others; over 170 designs were displayed.  Neither the Tribune nor the Art Institute kept records of who entered or who exhibited.  I am seeking any information about who might have entered the competition, whose designs were in the Art Institute exhibit, any houses built from the submitted designs.  The 1945 competition is just getting beyond first hand memory, but interviews with anyone who lived in a Prize Home, or knows anything about the completion, would be very welcomed additions to my research."  Please email Siobhan with information.

  • 16 Jan 2021 9:30 AM | Christine R Henry

    In the past few months VAF member Amber Wiley has had the opportunity to share her research in many venues.  She delivered the Kelly Tukee Lecture in Historic Preservation at the University of Virginia titled “On Standards of Integrity”; appeared on the Tangible Remnants podcast, which explores interconnectedness of architecture, historic preservation, sustainability, race & gender; and the Architecture is Political podcast where she discussed her research interests on the social aspects of design and how it affects urban communities.

  • 16 Jan 2021 9:20 AM | Christine R Henry

    VAF member Wei (Windy) Zhao, Assistant Professor in the School of Design at Louisiana Tech received the Board of Regents Support Fund: Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars (ATLAS) Program, 2020-2021, which releases her from teaching this year to finish the manuscript, titled: Home Beyond the House: Life and Vernacular Environments in Chinese Villages, by this May. 

  • 16 Jan 2021 9:10 AM | Christine R Henry

    VAF member Catherine Zipf published a new book in December 2020, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater: American Architecture in the Depression Era which explores the relationship between the economic tumult in the United States in the 1930s, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the construction of his most famous house, Fallingwater.  

    The book reinterprets the history of this iconic building, recognizing it as a Depression-era monument that stands as a testimony to what an American architect could achieve with the right site, client, and circumstance, even in desperate economic circumstances. Using newly available resources, author Catherine W. Zipf examines Wright’s work before and after Fallingwater to show how it was influenced by the economic climate, public architectural projects of the Great Depression, and America’s changing relationship with Modernist style and technology.

  • 16 Jan 2021 9:00 AM | Christine R Henry

    The University of Oregon Historic Preservation program has received a 3-year research grant of approximately $400,000 to explore the history of Portland’s African American community as part of a major grant to the University from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The funds will support a digital mapping project that uses existing historical archives and residents’ oral histories to promote the history of the historically Black community of Albina. The project will be part UO’s Pacific Northwest Just Futures Institute for Racial and Climate Justice, a multidisciplinary collaboration between scholars in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Design. Funds for the historic preservation work are part of a $4.52 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a new initiative envisioning a transformative research platform for racial and climate justice. Program Director James Buckley has been working with members of the Albina community and local preservation advocates to develop innovative ways to tell the story of Portland’s African Americans from wartime boom to urban renewal bust to the rapid gentrification of the neighborhood in the 21st century.

    For more information contact Jim Buckley, Director, Historic Preservation Program, University of Oregon, Portland.

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